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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Williams

Investigation of Elder Financial Abuse and Exploitation

Investigation of Elder Financial Abuse and Exploitation

Elder abuse, real estate fraud, financial fraud: a typical sad scenario, but realistic.

Finding proper and loving care for an elderly parent is challenging. You want them to be comfortable and taken care of, but you may also worry about the quality of care. You aren’t alone as elder abuse happens more often than many people may realize. It’s hard enough for you to find a facility that you can trust, but knowing there’s a possibility of abuse can be frightening if you choose the wrong one.

Elder financial abuse, fraud, and exploitation have become increasingly prevalent in recent years. These situations may involve the misappropriation of funds and assets by individuals who are in a position of trust, including caregivers, family members, and financial advisors. Elder fraud also pertains to investment scams, insurance schemes, and predatory financial services targeting older persons.

Private Investigator Switzerland conducts investigations of elder fraud and financial abuse for families and their legal advisors. A private investigator can help you by investigating any current or past abuse that a facility may have. Since many elderly persons may be too scared or weak to protect themselves adequately, the wrong facility can take advantage of them. Abuse can come in many forms. It can be mental, financial, or even physical. These are often the result of negligence from the staff, malice, or intentional abuse that can prove devastating to everyone in your family. It is also a crime that goes unreported and is seeing an increase.

If you are someone who has empathy for the elderly, then you belong to those people who say that such a thing cannot happen to anyone. But unfortunately, the reality is different, someone's parent is a burden.

This abuse isn’t just centered at a nursing home or assisted living center. Hiring an in-home caregiver isn’t always the right answer. If the caregiver isn’t qualified or a kind and caring person, this abuse may continue at home instead of elsewhere. It’s essential to your family’s well-being to hire a private investigator, private detective, or private eye if you feel something like this is happening.

An attorney specializing in Elder Law and protecting the elderly was hired after researching the best, moreover, the attorney referred the client to a home health aid to monitor his mother in the nursing home to shield her from and report any abuse. The client hired a financial adviser to monitor her investments and pay bills when necessary. Additionally, the client employed a property manager to manage, lease, maintain, collect the rents from her home and deposit the proceeds into her account. Wondering how this system completely failed?

The home health aid, recommended by both the attorney and the financial adviser, told the client his mother had to sell her home to pay for her medical expenses. Red flags went up. Perhaps unknown to the home health aid, the client had enrolled their mother in medical insurance program and had taken out long-term care insurance as well.

The client’s suspicions that the home health aid was lying about the cause of the sale of the home were confirmed with the appearance of the tax statement. Only two thousand euros in medical expenses. The client called us and expressed his suspicions. During the interview, the home health aide stated that she “misspoke” and stated instead that the home was sold because of the expense of cost for repairs. The cost of the repairs is €10,000. As shown in the real estate sales contract, the mother reduced the sales price of her home to the buyer by €10,000 to make the stated repairs. Sounds like more than a red flag indicates.

The home had been generating €10,000 a year in rental income for the client’s mother. She had owned the home for twenty-five years and it was insured against damage and fire.

The client’s mother’s attorney, during an interview by law enforcement, stated that “no rights whatsoever” were given to the home health aid. A false representation, according to court documents the home health aid had acquired financial Power of Attorney. The client discovered the transfer of the Power of Attorney to the home health aid after the client’s mother’s death. Very suspicious? Our private investigator could have verified the attorney’s statement and claims by checking county public records or asking the attorney for a review of the mother’s legal file. This was not meant to be.

Meanwhile, the Client started asking questions of others- the financial adviser, the real estate broker, the property manager, and the financial advisers. The client’s mother’s home was put on the market and sold for a profit of €300,000. An attorney informed the client that the home was probably sold so that the sale of the home could not be rescinded. The sale of a home under emotional duress and a sale based on a fraudulent foundation could be rescinded.

Permanente physician, noted in the Patient Progress Report six days before the 87-year-old mother signed the contract to sell her home that "Since Thursday, a lot of problems have been piling up/decisions are going round and round/trouble deciding what to do. Paranoia with auditory hallucinations”.

This past week, the home health aide took the client's mother to meetings with an attorney, financial advisor, and realtor regarding the sale of her home. Everyone ended up benefiting from the commissions and fees earned directly from the sale of the home, and these are the trusted individuals.

Shortly after the client's mother signed a contract to sell her home, she was admitted to the emergency room with the complaint, "I had to leave my home." According to the medical report, she was diagnosed with dementia three days later.

The law enforcement investigator, according to the police report, who was assigned to investigate the client’s complaint did not interview the physicians or psychiatrists who had provided treatment for the mother. He could have interviewed them about the client's mother’s state of mind before, during, and after she signed the contract, but no interview took place… even after the client’s complaint was published as front page news in a local paper. The client's mother’s attorney stated to the law enforcement investigator the mother was “mentally competent” to make the decision to sell her home, as well as manage her financial affairs. According to the police report, the police investigator diminished the seriousness of the mother’s mental state.

The attorney selected the real estate broker that sold the home. The real estate broker who listed and sold the home reported to the police investigator that the client's mother, mentally, was “sharp as a tack”. All proceeds from the sale of the home were used to open a new account at a stock investment company managed by a business associate of the attorney. The attorney stated that the account was shut down after the collapse of the stock market. The attorney stated that the remaining funds were transferred to the client's mother’s original account. The police report does not mention what the opening balance was or the closing balance. The new financial adviser was never interviewed during the police investigation. The closing balance equaled the opened balance. Does that constitute the failure of the account? The police investigator could have asked these questions. Is the transfer of the funds, statement incompetence, or were the funds transferred for a different reason?

When the client asked the client's mother's financial advisor questions about her account, the financial advisor said, "You're getting my problems!!!"

The client then appealed to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Their e-mail response to the client's complaint was as follows: “Hire a lawyer. It's your word against theirs.” and that was the last the client heard from them. The client does not have €75,000 to hire a lawyer. Elder abuse and fraud continue to exist for these very reasons.

Complaints filed with regulatory agencies are just voices in the wind. Legislation enacted to combat elder abuse is worthless when regulatory agencies fail to respond and follow up on complaints filed by complainants. The result of these types of responses has a frightening and staggering effect on complainants and victims.

The home health aide wrote a note, instructing them to contact her, not the client, regarding any issues with the mother. This information, written on a small yellow sticky note, was found when the client obtained the client's mother's medical records after her death.

Invoices from a home health aide found after the death of the client's mother show bills of up to €60.00 per day at €20.00 per hour for cleaning her nursing home room. Cleaning and room maintenance were included in the services provided by the nursing home and these services were billed in the monthly nursing home fees.

The client then actually reported the client’s complaint to the State of Office emergency response unit for elder abuse. The agent was assigned to the client’s complaint. The agent met with the client several days later. Then she spoke to the police investigator assigned to investigate the client’s complaint. The client waited a month for a response from Agent. And Nothing.

The client then called her office asking her what had happened, and why had client not heard from her. No one answered the phone. The client then left a telephone message with her answering service, crying and pleading to her for her to continue her investigation and please contact the client. She never responded. The client then called her supervisor leaving a message for help. Again, no response.

Two months later, the client received a banker’s box, an elder abuse investigating unit containing the files the client had given to the Agent for review. There was no cover letter in the box, only the client’s research and findings involving the complaint.

After reading our report involving the complaint client learned that Agent was convinced by the police investigator to drop the complaint.

At the time of the client’s interview with the police investigator, he informed the client that the home health aid still had some of the client's mother’s funds in her account. A year and a half had passed since the client's mother’s death. The client asked the police investigator why the client's mother’s attorney, financial adviser, or home health aid had not informed the client of the existence of these funds. The police investigator responded, “The money is probably being used to pay bills.” A year and a half after the client's mother’s death? What bills? No accounting was provided showing what bills remained unpaid.

During the entire course of the client’s independent investigation, the home health aid refused for over one year to respond to the client's telephone calls, and emails, the client sent to her. She canceled her email account. What was the client's mother’s money doing in the home health aid’s account? Approximately two weeks after the police investigator was informed of the existence of the fund's client received a check for €6,300.00. There was no letter providing an explanation for the check. The check did not list the home health aid’s name.

The client's mother’s elder law attorney is still in business today. The real estate broker and the financial adviser, both working for international corporations, remain in business. The home health aid, according to her attorney’s court testimony “lost her business” of €60,000 a year. No demand for retraction of information the client provided in the three front-page newspaper articles about those people was made. No counter lawsuit for defamation or libel was filed.

The client is now in litigation and is in a state of emotional and physical collapse under the multiple pressures of the shocks of discovery, trial preparation, key witnesses repeated refusals to accept subpoenas, and the police investigator now asking the client to change the date of the trial, client’s uncertainty, if I had answered, demurs correctly, strict protocols for court document preparation, court deadlines, trial management meetings, settlement conference preparation, preparation for deposition and cross-examination questioning of the defendant and the witnesses. The client was unable to take the legal proceedings as a result of the deteriorated emotional and physical condition client was in and suggested client as a result thereof drop legal proceedings. Client agreed. Immediately client’s attorney called the defendant’s attorney and said, “We have a settlement!”

Elder financial abuse can take many forms. Occasionally it involves outright theft when funds, property, or income are taken from an elderly person's possession without their knowledge or permission. Other victims are coerced into signing new wills, transferring property, or granting power of attorney to unscrupulous individuals. Undue influence over financial decisions may coincide with moments when the older person is ill, lonely, vulnerable, or suffering from diminished capacity.

Financial abuse of seniors has increased in recent years. This troubling trend has been documented in independent studies from state securities regulators, financial advisors, insurance firms, and public health officials. More than 40% of seniors suffer some form of financial abuse. Frauds targeting high-net-worth victims can result in financial losses reaching six- and seven figures.

The full extent of financial abuse may not be discovered until the victim's finances are formally reviewed, which may occur during estate planning, before entering long-term care, or posthumously during probate administration. Even if financial fraud is not discovered until after the victim's death, it is not too late to conduct an investigation and attempt to recover assets on behalf of their estate, heirs, and beneficiaries.

Why should you hire a Private Investigator?

Abuse of the elderly and any resultant death is a huge grey area for most people. Unfortunately, many older adults undergo a lot of harm because doctors and even law enforcement are ill-informed of any issues that are affecting seniors in nursing homes or other caregiving situations. Because of this, many are far from being in an excellent position to take any sort of appropriate action. On top of all this, there are no clear forensic guidelines on how to investigate elderly abuse. This is why hiring a private investigator is vital to the safety and well-being of your elderly family member.

What can a Private Investigator do?

Our team of private investigators, private detectives & private eyes can interview victims or carry out surveillance on a potential suspect. We are qualified and licensed to carry out private investigations and can capture hard evidence by audio and video recordings or still photography depending on the laws in your state. A private investigator is also able to obtain evidence that’ll be admissible in court. This evidence will allow you to file a case of abuse and pursue justice for your loved one and family. It will also allow you to seek the prosecution of suspects. A private investigator will get you the crucial information needed in case suspects or witnesses fail to disclose pertinent information while in court.

While most caregiving facilities work hard to take care of your elderly loved ones, there are times when something terrible happens. If you suspect elderly abuse is happening to your loved one, it is vital to speak to a private investigator immediately to get the evidence you need to make your case.

Private Investigator Switzerland conducts discreet and diligent investigations to verify whether fraud has occurred, document the extent of losses, and identify responsible parties. We coordinate our findings with law enforcement and legal counsel to support criminal prosecution and civil litigation. Every investigation at Private Investigator Switzerland is led by a Certified Fraud Examiner.

If you would like to discuss a potential investigation of elder financial abuse, please complete the online form on our website. You can also speak with an investigator by contacting our offices at +41 44 586 60 33

Private Investigator Switzerland

Schaffhauserstrasse 550.

CH-8050 Zürich


T. +41 44 586 60 33


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